The recent string of attacks on middle class workers has made it easier than ever to point the finger at the politicians spearheading anti-worker legislation across the country— legislators like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
As if the anti-union attacks in the states aren’t enough, the airline industry is ramping up efforts to make the process of forming a union a bumpy ride for aviation and rail workers.
The aviation industry is pushing Congress to pass the FAA Reauthorization Bill —with an amendment that would count non-voters as a “no” vote in union elections for both rail and air workers.
Wall Street-elected politicians have created the recent wave of anti-worker attacks we see sweeping the nation. But weeks of worker protests across the country have proven that local communities-those who care about the middle class-have a voice and are going to use it.
Last week, we let you know that Gov. Scott Walker wasn’t letting up on his push to scapegoat public workers for Wisconsin’s budget deficit. His threats to cut employee pay, reduce health and retirement benefits, and virtually eliminate workers’ right to bargain collectively mobilized public employees and workers’ rights supporters across the country.
The ongoing protest in Madison, now in its eighth day, is proof that working families won’t stand for these brazen attacks on public employees and their unions—even when faced with the threat of layoffs.
Christmas came early (or in my case, Hanukkah came late) to the American Rights at Work staff this week. We got invited to a preview screening of “Made in Dagenham“, starring Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins and Richard Schiff.
“Made in Dagenham” is a dramatization of the 1968 Ford sewing machinists strike at the Ford Dagenham assembly plant in England, where women were classified as “unskilled” workers and paid considerably less than their male co-workers. They eventually brought Ford’s assembly line to a halt, walking out in protest against sexual discrimination and the unequal pay. Their actions were instrumental in England’s Equal Pay Act of 1970. Read more »
I recently attended “The National Labor Relations Act at 75: Its Legacy and Its Future,” a two-day symposium hosted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the George Washington University Law School. Bringing together academics and practitioners, the conference allowed experts in law, economics, and sociology to mark the Act’s 75th birthday by considering its impact on America’s workers. In doing so, the conference was a unique opportunity to take stock of labor law in this country and discuss its (evolving?) role in the years to come.
Professor Richard Freeman, a noted labor economist from Harvard, set the theme for the entire event in the first panel. Borrowing from federal judge Abner Mikva, Freeman declared, “It is perhaps harsh and impolitic at the NLRA’s 75th birthday to declare that in 2010 the law no longer fits American economic reality and has become an anachronism irrelevant for most workers and firms. But that is the case.”
Presenters on later panels affirmed this conclusion with evidence that pointed to the struggles of workers trying to form unions and collectively bargain in today’s workplaces. The reality is that employers know they can fire and/or punish union supporters under the current NLRB elections process to send a message to their co-workers. And companies can require managers to warn subordinates about the ‘dangers’ of forming a union in mandatory meetings – even when the supervisors prefer to remain neutral.
As Georgetown law professor Michael Gottesman noted, the status quo makes it economically rational for employers to break the law.
Last week, we talked about how DirecTV skirts labor and tax law by misclassifying its employees as independent contractors. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell signed into law legislation that will prevent construction companies from following in DirecTV’s footsteps.
Act 72, or the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act, subjects contracting companies who cheat the system by denying their workers’ rights to fines and criminal prosecution. In addition, there’s an “acting in concert” provision, punishing anyone who knowingly hires a contractor who is violating the act. Previously, attorneys could make a company repay unemployment compensation funds in cases of misclassification, but the state could not charge the employer with a criminal offense. Read more »
Last week, Forbes named Xerox CEO Ursula Burns one of the most powerful women in the world. But what the magazine failed to mention is that her company is doing everything it can to keep unions out of the workplace.
In addition to making photocopiers, Xerox also runs the call centers for E-ZPass, the automatic tollbooth system in New York state. And when E-ZPass workers in Staten Island, NY voted to join the Communications Workers of America, Xerox retaliated by telling 19 employees that they had to transfer or leave the company. Read more »
This Labor Day, it’s not all good news for America’s workers. Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors freedom, and advocates for democracy and human rights, recently released a new report about the global state of workers rights. By studying the relationships between each government and its country’s workers, Freedom House was able to grade the countries on a scale of “very repressive” to “free.”
And the results for the United States? Well, Uncle Sam isn’t going to be putting this report on the fridge any time soon. Read more »
Alden Leeds, Inc., a company that produces swimming pool chemicals in Kearny, NJ, will have to face up to its dirty deeds. Last November, while in contract negotiations with its employees’ union, the company unlawfully locked out 50 workers.
For the record, that’s illegal. And it’s wrong. Instead of bargaining in good faith with its employees, the company chose to leave them out in the cold, without a paycheck, for nearly nine months.
Unfortunately, this kind of thing is nothing new for America’s working families. Firing and intimidating pro-union employees are common practice for far too many employers. Adding insult to injury, lawbreaking employers often get away with these crimes, with nary a penalty. But not this time! Read more »